The sun works its way through the window blinds in my office on one of the last bright afternoons before Wednesday’s solstice. In addition to the longest night of the year, Wednesday brings the Spawn and Squeeze to Mondoville. I’m picking them up in Greenville that afternoon and returning them to the Mid-Century Mondohaus by night.
I’ve done small amounts of preparation for their arrival, with Mrs. M’s doing the lion’s share over the course of the weekend. Still, my sweeping, vacuuming, and leaf-blowing kept me busy from time to time. In the meantime, I spoke to the Spawn this afternoon, and we’re looking forward to getting together for the first time since she received her grad degree back in May. Among other things, we hope to introduce the Squeeze to Southern-style barbecue at a joint in a nearby town.
As for the holiday itself, a forecasted cold snap means that it will actually feel like winter for a change, even though a white Christmas is (as usual) off the menu. Honestly, that’s one of the things I miss here in Mondoville. We’re in our twentieth year down here, and I can only recall two significant snows in that time, though we get a dusting every couple of years. Mrs. M and I talk about heading wherever the Spawn is after we retire; I hope it’s someplace with four seasons.
I was in Real City a few days ago to get a haircut, but along the way, I managed to find a William Kotzwinkle novel I hadn’t previously read. Great World Circus (1983) is a remarkable work — an illustrated narrative poem, coming in around the length of a novella. It follows the cross-time/cross-space travels of a Priestess of Ur, along with the lives of the various men (and a baboon) who encounter her, and the discoveries made by an archaeologist. Much of the narration is in a rhyming sort of vers libre, but other sections are considerably more formal. The connection of disparate elements, whether in language or plot, remind me of Kotzwinkle’s earlier Hermes 3000.
Many of Kotzwinkle’s characters and worlds seem to exist in a sort of dreamtime, more magic than magic realist, but still no more than a half-step from ours. There’s a strange, fascinating weirdness to his books, even at their most realistic, and while he is as wide-ranging an author as one might hope (having written — and written well — in sf/fantasy, horror, private eye fiction, picaresque, satire, bildungsroman, and mainstream/litfic (and those are just the genres I can list off the top of my head)), his voice and slightly skewed worldview is everpresent and completely identifiable. I haven’t read enough of his children’s books to say much (although Trouble in Bugland, which features an insect detective, certainly continues the weirdness), nor have I read his novelizations of movies like E.T. and Superman III , but again — the man has range.
Most recently, he finished the second book of his Tommy Martini “Felonious Monk” thriller/black comedy (see what I mean about weirdness?) series. Bloody Martini is due to be released on Valentine’s Day, 2023, and features the bar bouncer/monk with anger management issues going back to his hometown and his roots among the mafiosi. I’ve already ordered my copy. You could do worse than order both books in the series yourself.
Given that authors like Stephen King and Harlan Ellison have praised Kotzwinkle’s work, my praise may not mean that much, but it’s real, and I can say that he’s one of the authors whose books I’ll buy on sight, without even knowing what they’re about. He’s worth your time.
I’ll go ahead and wrap this one up with some music. From our friends in the Green Pajamas, here’s some wintertime music, in the form of “Cold North Sea of Love” and “Bleak are the Bells.”
See you soon, haircut and all!